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tv   Nightline  ABC  November 3, 2010 10:35pm-11:05pm PST

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tonight on "nightline," the odd couple. how can president obama get along with the next speaker of the house, john boehner? we got inside the mind games of america's latest dysfunctional relationship. can they possibly work it out? palin's picks. she won some and she lost some. so, where does brand palin stand now? did last night set the stage for her presidential run? and, good-bye madame speaker. she broke the marble ceiling. now she's out of a job. so, does nancy pelosi have any regrets? diane sawyer asks her in the "nightline" interview. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news with cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, and terry
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moran in washington, this is "nightline," november 3rd, 2010. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. we're going to begin tonight with politics. with the new political reality here in washington after last night's election, well, the relationship to watch here is the one between president obama and the incoming republican speaker of the house, john boehner. to push his agenda forward, to keep the confidence of his supporters, each man will need the cooperation of the others. so, will they surprise us with a partnership? or is pennsylvania avenue going to be once again a partisan-free fire zone? the wave crashed across the country last night. turning dozens of blue congressional districts red and launching a new tea partiers into the senate. >> we've come to take our government back! >> reporter: and so this morning washington woke up to a new reality. speaker boehner. >> last night, the president was
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kind enough to call me. we discussed working together on the american people's priorities. >> reporter: working together. that's the challenge ahead for these two very different men. men who have proved themselves to be canny and skilled politicians, now thrown together at the pinnacle of american power. >> when you're in this place, it is hard not to seem removed. >> reporter: president obama today seemed chastened, aware that the wave that made john boehner speaker carried a message for him. and he clearly wanted to say he got the message. >> this is something that i think every president needs to go through. now, i'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacer like i did last night. you know, i'm sure there are easier ways to learn these lessons. >> reporter: right now, it might seem boehner has the upper hand, with scores of new republican members in the house eager to confront obama.
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and the new speaker made clear today that he's game. >> i believe the health care bill that was enacted by the current congress will kill jobs in america, ruin the best health care system in the world, and bankrupt our country. >> reporter: but a lot of those new republicans might be hard to keep in line. >> boehner's own relationship is going to be fascinating, as well, because there are so many new members, i heard that 25%, quarter of the caucus, republican caucus, is new. and by new, many of them are first-time candidates, have never done anything like this before. so, they're new to the legislative process as well as new to washington. >> reporter: so, what can get done in this new even more partisan political environment? well, previous presidents have taken shellackings. >> it was a thumping. >> reporter: george w. bush in 2006. bill clinton in 1994. >> we were held accountable yesterday, and i accept my share of the responsibility in the
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result of the elections. >> reporter: and ronald reagan and franklin roosevelt and plenty more. the key for the country is what comes next. and the key to that, in part, lies in this new dynamic. this new relationship. for months, however, the two men have been swinging away at each other on the campaign trail. >> listen, i don't lithink the president gets it. >> mr. boehner said this reform was like employing nuclear weapons to kill an ant, he said. an ant. that's what he called what we just went through. >> it's so interesting, because sometimes you have relationships that can be incredibly hostile on paper and very friendly in fact. >> reporter: my abc colleague cokie roberts has covered washington for decades. she says it can work. just look at how ronald reagan and tip o'neil, conservative republican president and liberal democratic speaker got along. >> and part of that was that they were both irishmen who were
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of a similar age, they grew up in a similar era. they recognized each other's stories. and they enjoyed each other's company. i don't think that's true at all of john boehner and barack obama. i think that each finds the other somewhat unrecognizable. >> reporter: john boehner grew up a working class kid in southern ohio, one of 12 brothers and assisters, all living in a two bedroom home. his dad owned a tavern, the future speaker of the house started working there when he was 8, sweeping the floor. his sister still works behind the bar. >> they think he's a rich guy that's got this tan, goes to a tanning bed, plays golf all the time, goes to the country club. that's not john boehner. >> reporter: and as he spoke about all that last night, the button downed john boehner wept. >> i put my myself through
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scho school, working every rotten job there was. and every night shift i could find. >> reporter: president obama talked about his upbringing today, too, his single mom, who traveled the world. his grandparents who helped raise him. and he said he thinks the american people can relate to his life, too. >> the values of hard work and responsibility and honesty and looking out for one another. have been instilled in them by their parents. those are the same values that i took from my mom and grandparents. >> reporter: the president and the incoming speaker share some interests. they're both golfers. and they both were or are smokers. but with very different attitudes. >> have i fallen off the wagon sometimes, yes. am i daily smoker, a constant smoker, no. i don't do it in front of my kids. i don't do it in front of my
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family. and, you know, i would say that i am 95% cured. but there are times where -- there are times when i mess up. >> it's something that i choose to do. and, you know, at some point, maybe i'll decide, i've had enough of it. >> reporter: so, given all their differences, can they do business? that first one-on-one meeting between the president of the united states and the new speaker of the house. how does that go? >> do they just eye each other warily and sort of say, look, i know we have to do this, so, let's get it out of the way. i don't like you, you don't like me, we don't agree, shake hands, go out the door. or do they say, hook, i really do think -- i'm willing to put something on the table right here and say, you're right, this stuff, i can move on. this stuff, i can't. >> what's working in favor of them working together is the fact that independent voters are
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just swinging wildly back and forth. and john boehner is a smart politician. and he understands that he took advantage of that last night, but two years from now, they could swing right back to the democrats where they were two years ago. >> reporter: in this relationship, the personal is always political. two guys with very different backgrounds and now they're going to try to search for common graupd, we hope. when we come back, the palin effect. that's what we turn to next. we look at how much a sarah palin endorsement helped or hurt candidates in last night's election. hi, may i help you? yes, we're looking to save on car insurance, even if that means we have to shop all day, right, honey? yep, all day. good thing you're starting here. we compare your progressive direct rate to other top companies', so you can save money! look! we saved a lot! and quick, too. and no more holding her purse!
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well, the results of last night's midterm laexs had time to settle for about the duration of a victory speech, before a new conversation took over here. what about 2010? will barack obama be a one-term president? what will sarah palin do? going into the election, one measure of sara pa lip's potential as a presidential candidate was how many of the hopefuls she endorsed got elected. so, how did she do? neal karlinsky has the scorecard. >> reporter: last night, there were winners -- >> it's clear tonight who the winners really are. >> reporter: there were losers. >> the outcome isn't what we all worked so hard for. >> reporter: and then, there was sarah palin. >> there will be a few new sheriffs in town. >> reporter: palin wasn't running for anything, or was she? her candidates were in play in
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every corner. and her prospects of higher office may have been riding with them. >> she batted about .500. in baseball, that's very good. but the real story about sarah palin is, again, she, we're talking about her today. so, in that sense, it was a good day, because she once again is the center of the political universe. she jumped on this tea party bandwagon long before anybody else did. and she was also fearless about it, because she knew that she had nothing to lose. >> reporter: here in alaska, they're still counting the votes, but it isn't looking good for tea partier joe miller, even with all of palin's help. >> are you going to be there for joe miller? >> reporter: despite everything she did for miller, palin's supporters weren't all on board. >> we need a fella whose guts match ours. i haven't seen that of joe. >> reporter: his name is old
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jack. yes, he says his first name is old. and he's been a palin backer since she was running for governor. today, he says he's not so sure about palin's credentials for a larmer office. >> for governor she was okay. but for a larger picture, we need a wag gone master that's more knowledgeable. more tuned into the world. >> reporter: in fact, across the nation, for all her mile here profile attention, palin's endorsements were a very mixed bag. >> mamma grizzly, yes. oh, it is so good to be here. >> reporter: as america's officially mamma grizzly, she hopscotched across the country, picking and choosing at times ran don endorsements in her own confident style. >> i want to thank everyone for coming out. >> reporter: while miller awaits his fate, six of her other senate hopefuls actually won, including rand paul in kentucky. >> we've come to take our government back! >> reporter: and florida's marco rubio. >> we know the power in the
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united states house of representatives will change hands. >> marco rubio. i'll tell you. mavericky, going rogue, you know. >> reporter: but two of her most high profile candidates lost. >> you've done an incredible job, we, the people. >> i'm talking candidates like sharron angle. to take back america. >> reporter: angle was her biggest loss, but not her biggest gamble. >> i'm not a witch. >> reporter: palin protege christine o'donnell may not be a witch, but last night, she wasn't a winner, either. >> thank you. thank you so much, everyone. >> my endorsement allowed a little bit of a boost to get people to pay attention to what she was saying, so, given a choice, i'm going to go with the common sense conservative in a race. >> she is a phenomenon, but she is not a vote getter. she does not have the machine. she is about bringing some hype.
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she, in some ways, can help bring some money and attention. but she's not about delivering votes. >> reporter: the thing about sarah palin is, she doesn't care what the experts think. she seemed eager to throw her support behind obscure new comers despite the risk. take sean duffy. he's best known as one of the seven strangers of mtv's "real world boston." >> we are going to disneyland. >> reporter: duffy won. and so did alan west. an iraq war vet and one of the tea paratip's few african-american contenders. >> alaska, don't you just love your freedom? >> reporter: back on her own rugged home turf, she didn't seem to be able to seal the deal and long time political observers here say palin fatigue is setting in. just as she is setting her sights on a possible presidential run. >> is there palin fatigue in alaska -- yes. we're glad that she made some money and brought attention to
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our state, but people are tired of the drama. >> reporter: palin power cannot be underestimated. >> this election just put her right smack dab in the middle of the 2012 mix. there's no doubt in my mind that the referendum of this election, outsiders bucking the system, is right in her wheel house. and it is the message that she has always wanted to run on. >> reporter: this year, her power to persuade far from home seems to be growing, even as her beloved alaska is increasingly cautious of the momma grizzly they used to call their own. i'm neal karlinsky for "nightline" in anchorage. >> sarah palin and this year's election. thanks to neal karlinsky for that report. up next, a battle scarred legislative titan prepares to stand down. we ask outgoing speaker of the house nancy pelosi if there's anything she regrets.
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>> announcer: "nightline" continues from washington with terry moran. >> she is one of the truly divisive figures in american politics. to the left, the aborchitect to some of the most important social legislation since the new deal. to the right, she's an agent of socialism. but now, nancy pelosi is on her way out as speaker of the house. tonight, diane sawyer has the "nightline" interview. >> reporter: it took 200 years for her to be called madame
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speaker. >> the first president to begin the state of the union address with these words "madame speaker." >> reporter: she assumed the title four years ago. >> so nice of him. it was so lovely. >> reporter: but by yesterday's midterm election, the woman who spear-headed those health care and stimulus packages through the chambers on behalf of her president had become a lightning rod. so had the bills. she was vilified, even despised by political opponents on the right. >> fire pelosi bus.com. >> you fire pelosi. >> she must be doct-- fired! >> reporter: and the election yesterday delivered a strong message. that she and her democratic house had lost the confidence of the voters. what did the president say to you and you to him. >> well, i don't usually discuss my conversation with the president, but you can just imagine that it was a call in which -- i had spoken to him
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twice yesterday, early in the day and then in the evening and we expressed pride in the work that we had done. sadness over the loss of the members who would not be returning. >> reporter: no regrets? >> no regrets, because we believe we did the right thing and we worked very hard in our campaigns to convey that to the american people. >> reporter: and now, it's over. time for her to pass the gavel to a man who could not be more different in his politics or personal style. john boehner. consummate conservative. son of the working class midwest, whom she told us is a friend. >> we're friends and he knows that i wish him well personally and for the american people, i wish him well. >> reporter: when she sat down with us this afternoon, she was characteristically purposeful, focused, unbowed. still convinced, even in the face of defeat, that all those hours of work, the buttonholing deal making -- >> the motion is adopted.
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>> reporter: was worth it. and that she did what was best for america, and mostly, she said, for the children. >> the contribution is, the legislation that we have passed for all of america's children. and it certainly was an honor to be in the position to do that, to gallo the house to order on behalf of all of america's children, to be recognized by the president of the united states. >> reporter: and if you said one thing to that woman taking that gavel, from this vantage point, it would be -- >> job well done. but i would also say, we all -- what's really important is for women in politics and government to understand the gratitude we have to those who went before. the responsibility that we have to those who come after. and i would want women to know that whatever the struggle, it
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was worth it. and whatever the risk, it is worth it, as well. >> reporter: but looking back at what happened, she says she does understand the anger. >> what we saw last night is, let's understand the message. the message was not, i reject the course that you are on. the message is, it didn't go fast enough to produce jobs. >> reporter: and what about the bitter partisanship? will she stay in congress? will she be there to meet with conservatives, bridge differences? >> we're always ready to come back. but let's say this. let's just do what is right for the american people. there are those of us who are involved in politics and in government know that our responsibility is to the american people. >> reporter: so, we asked her to look into the future. what will it be going forward? what are you going to do next? >> first of all, today, i'm talking to my members who carried the banner, took the tough votes. that's what i'm doing today.
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when i'm toward the end of doing that, i'll start thinking about what i do next, but it's never been about me. it's about how our caucus goes forward to fight, continue our fight for the middle class. >> reporter: are the odds you'll stay? >> in our caucus, we always do things by consensus and when we have that consensus, we'll have some announcement to make. >> reporter: and do you feel you would have the support to be minority leader? >> well, as i said, when we -- i don't want to speak for my caucus at this time. >> reporter: she said she will have to talk to her family. one factor will be spending time with her grandchildren. i'm going to get my count wrong. five grandchildren? >> oh, no, no, many more. yeah, no, my grandchildren. and, again, i have to make a decision about what i do next, it certainly weighs in, have my real accomplishment in life is being a mom and a grandmother. >> reporter: but one marker before we left. she said, make sure women know that her tenure as speaker of
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the house will not be a footnote in history. looking back, you've said, this will not be a footnote. >> it is not a footnote. well, being the first woman speaker, breaking the marble ceiling is pretty important. i relish that. i was in its time and place and now it's time to move on. >> time to move on for nancy pelosi. thanks to die yaw sawyer. be sure to watch "world news" tomorrow for diane's interview with john boehner. when we come back, tea party senate losers. that's the subject of tonight's closing argument. first, here's jimmy kimmel. >> jimmy: on the show tonight, dan any mcbride is here. huey lewis and the news are with us. and tonight, i'm going to help simplify your life, by kicking your so-called friend off our facebookokokokokokokokokokokokok
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